RipperCon in Baltimore, April 7-8, 2018, with tours of Baltimore April 6 and 9!

Alfred Hitchcock, Baltimore, Civil War, Edgar Allan Poe, Ivor Novello, Jack the Ripper, Jews, London, Marie Belloc Lowndes, Mysteries, Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Lodger, True crime, Victorian Period, Whitechapel Murders, silent motion pictures, stage and screen No Comments »









If you are interested in Jack the Ripper, the Whitechapel Murders, Edgar Allan Poe,

Sherlock Holmes, Victorian mysteries, or True Crime, this is the event for you.

Baltimore is going to be a happening place on the weekend of April 7-8!

Registration is $140 or $120 if you agree to wear period clothing.

Price includes talks and panels Saturday and Sunday in the Main

Building at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) 9 am

to 5 pm including lunch and refreshments, Friday afternoon free

walking tour of downtown Baltimore and evening reception at

the Lord Baltimore Hotel. To book a place, $80 is due now and the

remainder by or on Valentine’s Day, February 14 (RipperCon 2018

is for lovers!!!). Pay via PayPal to Note that

Saturday night banquet with speakers and entertainment and the Monday all-

day Bus Tour are priced separately. Space is limited to 50 people so book early!

RipperCon 2018 Speakers

Circa 13-14 speakers are expected to give talks over the weekend.

Look out for surprise announcements here as well as on Facebook & Twitter!


Carla E. Anderton

“There’s Something About Mary: Whitechapel’s Darkest Night, November 9, 1888”

Carla E. Anderton

Carla E. Anderton has long been fascinated by history and the human condition,

particularly English history in the Tudor and Victorian eras. A speaker at the

2011 conference at Drexel University on “Jack the Ripper Through A Wider Lens,”

Anderton made the elusive killer the focus of her debut novel, The Heart Absent

(New Libri Press, 2013).

Anderton has a Master of Fine Arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill

University and a Bachelor of Arts in English from California University of

Pennsylvania. In addition to writing historical fiction, Anderton has published

poetry, essays, articles, and plays, and has an extensive background in small

press journalism.

Currently, Anderton is the Editor-in-Chief of Pennsylvania Bridges, a regional

print and online magazine, and an adjunct professor of English and public

speaking at Westmoreland County Community College. She lives in California,

PA, with her husband, Eric, and two cats, River and Rozey.


Amy Branam Armiento
“‘How calmly I can tell you the whole story’: Murder in Edgar Allan Poe’s Fiction”

Amy Branam Armiento

Armiento is an associate professor of English and the coordinator of African-American

Studies at Frostburg State University in Frostburg, Maryland. A native of Fort Wayne,

Indiana, she completed her B.A. degree at St. Francis College in Fort Wayne.

Armiento’s Master’s thesis, Literature and Killers: Three Novels as Motives for

Murder, was the culmination of her studies at Ball State University. She earned

her PhD in English at Marquette University, focusing her dissertation on Edgar Allan Poe.

Currently, Armiento serves as Vice President of the international Poe Studies Association.

When she is not teaching or conducting research, she enjoys the splendors of mountain

Western Maryland with her husband, Frank, stepdaughter, Milana, and dogs, Smeg and Stella.


Bernard Beaulé
“Tumblety: Historical and Criminal Evidence Issues”

Bernard Beaulé

Bernard Beaulé will tackle the thorny issue of controversial but colorful quack

Dr. Francis Tumblety and his candidacy for having been a leading Jack the

Ripper suspect since 1995.  Does ”Dr. T” still remain a viable suspect?

Born a French Canadian in the town of Havre Saint-Pierre on Quebec’s

North Shore, Beaulé spent some ten years in his childhood in the United

States where his father studied surgery.

Although he has a college degree in Social Science focusing on empirical

research and he also attended law school, he never claimed to be other

than someone looking for the truth. Beaulé and his wife are these days

resident for much of the year in Mérida, Mexico, 190 miles west of Cancún.

He is working toward a Master’s degree in Mayan archeology.

Known by colleagues as a trouble shooter, Bernard Beaulé’s

career brought him constantly closer to what he aspired to

become—a writer. From governmental papers, political speeches,

and, years later, given his passion for gardening, a book on how

to design and build water gardens (a French-Canadian best seller!),

he now adventures himself in the historical fiction genre. His first

novel, My Ripper Hunting Days, allowed him to blend in all the

aspects that an author working with the past should consider to be

his ground rules: rigor, integrity, endless self-challenging, and

acceptance of peer review.


Mikita Brottman

“A Morbid Curiosity: Murder in the Old Belvedere Hotel, Baltimore, 2006”

Mikita Brottman.

Brottman will discuss the mysterious death of businessman Rey Rivera, 32, whose decomposing body was discovered a week after his disappearance in a closed meeting room. His injuries were consistent with the man having either jumped or been pushed from the roof of the Belvedere. Whether Rivera’s death was the result of suicide or murder has been the subject of much speculation and will be the subject of Brottman’s new book, A Morbid Curiosity. For more on the case see

Brottman is a psychoanalyst and​ professor in the Department of Humanistic​ Studies at MICA. She is the author of Meat is Murder! (1998), a study of cannibalism in myth, crime, and film; and the true crime collection Thirteen Girls (2013). Her book, The Maximum Security Book Club: Reading Literature in a Men’s Prison, was published in June 2016 by HarperCollins and (see She lives in the Old Belvedere Hotel.

Christopher T. George

“The Legend of Jack the Ripper” and “The Devil in Mr Deeming”

Christopher T. George

Yes, the Whitechapel Murderer, otherwise known as Jack the Ripper, was a real-life serial killer who terrorized the East End of London in the autumn of 1888. Yet, human though he was, this unknown person has become much bigger than a living, breathing being.

Veteran Ripperologist Chris George, a former editor at Ripper Notes and Ripperologist magazines, discusses the worldwide phenomenon of “Jack the Ripper” and also takes a crack at alleged Ripper Frederick Bailey Deeming, repeating his successful talk in his native Liverpool, England, in September on “The Devil in Mr Deeming.”

In “The Legend of Jack the Ripper,” Chris will look at forerunners to the Whitechapel murderer, such as Spring-Heeled Jack and the London Monster and other sensations, and how word of the 1888 crimes spread to every corner of the globe, in an effort to understand why the spectre of the Whitechapel Murderer has both fascinated and frightened people for nearly 130 years. In addition, Chris will examine different candidates for the mantle of the Ripper and weighs their likelihood or non-likelihood to have been the infamous killer, in light of the existing information on the crimes.

Sarah Beth Hopton

“Mary Pearcey and the Hampstead Murders.”

Sarah Beth Hopton

Hopton’s Woman at the Devil’s Door (Mango Books, 2017) about Mary Pearcey and her crimes in Victorian London is her first work of historic true crime. Her second book, Deadfall: Mountain Mysticism, Moonshine and Massacre in 1890s Virginia, is due out in 2019 from Indiana University Press.

Among her past jobs, Hopton worked as a Florida crime and politics columnist for both The News Sun and [Closer magazine for a total of four years. She recently appeared on the Investigation Discovery (ID) channel special “Bloody Marys” to discuss Mary Pearcey, viewed by some as a possible “Jill the Ripper.”

Hopton is currently an assistant professor in the English Department at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. She lives on an off-grid permaculture farm with her partner, two dogs, many chickens, a few pigs, and four rascally goats.

Chris Jones
“The Maybricks of Liverpool: More George & Ringo than Lennon & McCartney?”

Chris Jones

Chris Jones taught for 36 years in secondary schools in Liverpool, served for many years as Head of History in a Merseyside school, and later as Deputy Head Teacher at one of the city’s largest comprehensive schools. A few months ago, he retired from teaching and formed his own hiking company, Simply Trekking. He spent three weeks in September trekking up to Everest base camp.

In 2007, Jones organised the Trial of James Maybrick at the Liverpool Cricket Club across the street from the former Maybrick mansion, Battlecrease House. Following the success of this event, he wrote the widely acclaimed book The Maybrick A to Z in which he tried to take an objective review of the evidence surrounding Florence Maybrick’s 1889 trial for the arsenic murder husband James and also James’ alleged links to the Ripper murders. He has continued his research into James and especially Florence, and has given talks on the Maybricks in both Britain and the United States, including in Florence’s home town of Mobile, Alabama. He has written several articles about the Maybrick case, most recently a critique of Bruce Robinson’s We All Love Jack, in which Robinson made certain doubtful claims with regard to the conduct of Florence’s trial. His current research is focused on the claims that the so-called Maybrick Diary was found by electricians working in Battlecrease House on March 9, 1992.


For a week in August 1889, the eyes of the world were focused on a sensational trial in Liverpool. A young American, Florence Maybrick, was on trial for the murder of her much older husband, a respected city cotton trader, whom she allegedly killed by means of arsenic poisoning. Finally released from prison in 1904 (but never pardoned), she returned to the U.S. the following year, when she again dominated the front pages of major newspapers.

In 1992, the supposed Diary of Jack the Ripper was “discovered” and overnight it turned James Maybrick into arguably the most controversial of all Ripper suspects. Not considered a suspect at the time of the Whitechapel murders and unmentioned in the famous Macnaghten Memorandum or any other contemporary police document, Maybrick was not linked to the killings until the emergence of the so-called Diary. His credibility as a Ripper suspect is therefore intrinsically bound up with the authenticity of this document—or the lack of it.

In his talk, Jones will look at both Florence and James Maybrick. Was one a manipulative, clever murderer and was the other the most infamous serial killer of all time? Or, are both of them relatively ordinary individuals who have been unjustly accused of crimes they didn’t commit? He will examine the key moments in Florence’s trial and why the jury produced a guilty verdict. He will then address the big question—did Florence really kill James?

Jones will then review the key arguments for and against James being a credible Ripper suspect. He will analyse the new evidence that has recently surfaced that arguably provides some much needed provenance for the Diary. Was James Maybrick really Jack the Ripper or instead an arsenic addict whose name has been cleverly woven into a forged document in an elaborate and clever hoax?

Jackie Murphy

“Jack the Ripper’s London”

Jackie Murphy

RipperCon M/C Jackie Murphy was born in North London, but brought up in Essex, 30 miles east of Whitechapel. She became interested in Jack the Ripper at age 13 when she was allowed to watch the six-part “Barlow and Watt” TV program about the case. She got further hooked on the case a few years later when she read Stephen Knight’s book. Then family life took over, but in the run up to the centenary of the case in 1988 the increase in books and documentaries really sparked her interest.

In 1999, Murphy joined the Cloak and Dagger Club, now the Whitechapel Society, and has contributed to journals and books for the society, as well as other publications. She lives with her partner Alan Hunt in Dorchester, Dorset—Thomas Hardy country. Now a semi-retired teacher, Murphy works at the local history research center and makes quilts.

Murphy tells us, “My ancestor was Benjamin Disraeli, or rather I am the result of his brother’s affair with the housekeeper! A more famous claim to fame is that my great, great grandfather owned Top Withins Farm, the basis for Wuthering Heights.”

Brian W. Schoeneman
“Sir Charles Warren, the Metropolitan Police, and the Whitechapel Murders”

Brian W. Schoeneman

Brian Schoeneman is an attorney, writer and veteran American political professional, with over fifteen years of government and private sector experience in government affairs. He has been studying the Whitechapel Murders since 1998, with an emphasis on the Metropolitan Police and Sir Charles Warren.

He currently serves as political and legislative director for the Seafarers International Union, the largest maritime union in the United States. He has served in the past as Special Assistant and Senior Speechwriter to the U.S. Secretary of Labor, and former Secretary of the Fairfax County Electoral Board. In his capacity as Secretary of the Fairfax County Electoral Board, he garnered national attention for overseeing the closest election recount in Virginia history in 2013.

Schoeneman is a graduate of the Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law, and receive a Masters degree in political management and Bachelor’s degree in political science from the George Washington University. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Virginia’s Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership, where he was elected class leader by his peers. He is licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia and is a member and former officer of John Blair Lodge #187, Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of Virginia.

In his community, he serves on the Vestry of historic St. John’s Church Lafayette Square, and on the Fairfax County Economic Advisory Commission. He ran for Virginia House of Delegates in 2011 and Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in 2015. He is the former editor-in-chief of, Virginia’s leading political website.

Casey Smith
“William Joseph Ibbett (1858-1934): Poet, Printer, Piquerist, Ripper Suspect?”

Casey Smith

Dorset-born W. J. Ibbett was a minor poet in an era noted for minor poetry. He was also a self-taught printer who produced badly printed copies of his poems. On some copies, the words were so poorly inked and broken that he used an ink pen to write over the printing to make it more legible. At times, it appears that the paper he used was taken from his day job at London’s General Post Office. Some of his poetry was produced as handwritten manuscript books, not because of a desire to create a beautiful book, but because it was cheap.

However, Ibbett managed to get some of his books printed by a few notable private presses, and the famous typographic expert and Monotype Corporation publicity manager, Beatrice Warde was an admirer. Warde even wrote the preface to one of his collections of poetry. Ibbett’s friend and mentor, rare book collector Harry Buxton Forman actively promoted Ibbett. In the middle of the 20th century, Norman Colbeck, a London book dealer, systematically collected Ibbett’s works, most of which are exceedingly scarce. (A typical run of one of Ibbett’s books was less than 200 copies.) The third collector in this chain is Mark Samuels Lasner, one of the foremost collectors of late-Victorian art and poetry in the 21st century, and the person who initially got Casey Smith interested in Ibbett.

Ibbett’s poetry, and life story, as detailed in his autobiography The Annals of a Nobody, reveal a complicated and troubled figure, a man who might have been responsible for the 1888 Whitechapel murders in Whitechapel, although Smith admits there is no definitive proof of this. However, Smith believes that bizarre and disturbing aspects of Ibbett’s life make him a good candidate for him having been Jack the Ripper.

Casey Smith is a researcher, writer, and teacher based in Washington, D.C. He has a PhD in English Literature and Victorian Studies from Indiana University-Bloomington, where he concentrated on book history and material bibliography. From 1997 to 2014 he taught at the Corcoran College of Art + Design (later, from 2014-2016 at the Corcoran School of Arts and Design at The George Washington University). He has presented papers at academic conferences throughout the UK and US on the subject of Victorian book-culture and art. A former Vice-President of the Chesapeake Chapter of the American Printing History Association, he is now an independent scholar and Associate Professor Emeritus at George Washington University in the District of Columbia.

David Sterritt

“Red Riding, the Yorkshire Ripper on Film”

David Sterritt

Sterritt is a film professor at MICA and editor-in-chief of the Quarterly Review of Film and Video. In 2015, he completed ten years as chair of the National Society of Film Critics. His thirteen books include The Films of Alfred Hitchcock, published by Cambridge University Press in 1993, and he is on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Hitchcock Annual. His e-book on Hitchcock is due out this year.

Charles Tumosa

“A Policeman’s Lot Is Not a Happy One”
How civilian conflicts with the police alter crime suppression and investigation.


Charles Tumosa

Tumosa lectures in the University of Baltimore (UB) School of Criminal Justice Forensic Studies program. Prior to joining UB, Tumosa supervised the Criminalistics Laboratory of the Philadelphia Police Dept. During his 18 years there, he worked on over 4,000 homicides and testified in more than 800 criminal cases. Tumosa also worked at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

During his time at the Smithsonian, Tumosa conducted analyses of artifacts including the Enola Gay, the aircraft that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima; the Statue of Columbia on the dome of the U.S. Capitol; and a time capsule from evolutionary scientist Charles Darwin’s ship, the HMS Beagle. His research provided insights into areas such as conservation, anthropology and the mechanisms of ancient technology. For more on Tumosa see “The Art of Investigation: Painting a Picture of Applied Forensics” by Paula Novash (UB Magazine, Summer 2011).

Janis Wilson

“Could Sherlock Holmes Have Solved the Jack the Ripper Murders?”

Janis Wilson


Wilson was co-organizer for RipperCon 2016. She is a Baltimore-based Ripperologist and author of the novel Goulston Street, expected to be available shortly. A former newspaper reporter and trial lawyer, Wilson took the Ripper Tour in Whitechapel many years ago under the direction of Donald Rumbelow. The tour allowed her to appreciate how the world-famous slayer managed to repeatedly escape capture. After extensive study of the Ripper, she taught a course about the killer at Temple University in Philadelphia. In addition to her writing career, Wilson is a commentator on true crime for the Investigation Discovery Channel and has appeared in such programs as “Deadly Affairs” and the “Nightmare Next Door.”

We look forward to welcoming you to Baltimore for what will be a great event, made even more special because it is taking place in the 130-year anniversary of the Whitechapel Murders.

Don’t miss out on the only U.S. conference on Jack the Ripper in this very special year!

 Main RipperCon Site

Speakers for 2016 (including 2016 Podcasts)
RipperCon 2018 Tours
Hotels for RipperCon 2018
Maryland Institute College of Art
Links of Interest
Complete information is at

visit to “

“Nutshell Studies” in Maryland Coroners’ Office. Space limited. Book soon.

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849): The circumstances of his mysterious death in

Baltimore in October 1849 have never been sufficiently explained.

For complete information on RipperCon, go to


Don’t miss out on RipperCon in Baltimore in April 2018!

The Writing on the Wall

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This past Sunday, I felt honored to be part of the recording of Rippercast
with host Jonathan Menges and a quite varied array of guests, including
David Lindblad, host of his own radio podcast, who is a long-time student
of the Ripper case but not a published expert, Robert McLaughlin, author
of The First Jack the Ripper Victim Photographs, researcher Mike
Covell of Hull, Yorkshire, UK, along with Martin Fido, veteran Ripper expert
and co-author of The Complete Jack the Ripper A to Z with Paul Begg
and Keith Skinner.

The episode, no. 51, is a wide-ranging discussion of various aspects of
the Ripper case given the apt title “The Blind Man’s Buff” given that the
police of the day were all at sea about the case, without a clue to the
identity of the killer, as well satirized in the magazines of the time.

Blind Man's Buff larger

“Blind Man’s Buff,” a caricature for Punch, or the London Charivari, by
Tenniel, one of a number of wonderful satirical cartoons he did for Punch
See “John Tenniel & Jack the Ripper.”


One of the topics that we discussed during the chat was the controversial
and much-debated “graffito” found in a tenement doorway to Wentworth Model
Dwellings in Goulston Street in the early morning of 30 September 1888
within minutes after fourth canonical Ripper victim Catherine Eddowes
had been found murdered and grievously mutilated in a dark corner of Mitre
Square, Aldgate.  As we noted in Rippercast, the doorway is some streets
east of Mitre Square, which is City of London police territory, while
Goulston St. is Metropolitan Police territory, the City-administered part
being more or less in the ancient limits of the original city within the
Roman/medieval walls of the community and a bit beyond those walls.
The words were found near one of the rare true clues in the case, a piece
of the apron worn by Eddowes that the killer had cut from her corpse and
that exhibited both her blood and fecal matter.

The words were controversially expunged from the wall on the orders of Met
Police Commissioner Sir Charles Warren, without first being photographed.
As per a transcription made by the Met, they read as follows:

Goulston Street Graffito smaller

It was noted recently in a posting on the Casebook message boards here
by Neil Bell that the transcription by City Police detective Halse reads at
variance to the version in the Met files shown above, viz, “The Juwes
are not the men that will be blamed for nothing”. Bell noted he personally
prefers to trust Halse’s version.

Martin Fido made the point in Rippercast that both versions contain
the Cockney double negative.  Personally, I think whichever one chooses
the “message” doesn’t make much sense and so doesn’t seem to convey much.
Are the Jews being blamed? Or are they not being blamed?  Let’s forget
the Royal Conspiracy theory, probably bogus, that Warren asked for the words
to be erased from the wall because he was a Freemason and they referred
to the three “Juwes” of Solomon’s Temple.  Of course, you are free to
believe that was what occurred.  But it seems more likely that as he said at
the time, the police commissioner ordered the words removed because he
was afraid of an anti-semitic riot. Indeed, within a few hours of the discovery
Jewish merchants would congregate there for the famous “Petticoat Lane”
market that continues to this day–although the traders now are
likely to be from Bangladesh rather than Jewish.  In truth, there’d
been unrest in the East End before the murders over the murder of a land-
lady by a Jewish umbrella maker, Israel Lipski, who was executed in 1887,
and Warren himself had broken up the socialist gathering in Trafalgar
Square in November 1887, so he legitimately was afraid of a similar fracas.
Fido remarked that the graffito could have been left by someone who felt
they had been cheated by a Jewish tradesman.  A legitimate theory, I feel,
because we might never know for certain if the words were left by the
 Israel Lipski

Israel Lipski

Let me mention to you a little anecdote.  A few evenings ago, I was
arriving home by cab from my work in Washington, D.C., to my Baltimore
apartment building near Johns Hopkins.  I get a cab from Penn Station up
North Charles Street to my home.  The fare is usually around eight bucks
or so and I always like to tip the cabbie a dollar.  Now, because it was
starting to rain heavily, I was wrestling to get my umbrella ready,
along with struggling with all my bags of papers, books, mags,
music, lunchbag, etc.  You can picture the scene.  The driver was, as is
often the case here, of Arab or East African extraction.  Well, I got nine
dollars out of my wallet, four ones and a five, thought I handed the sum
to him and told him it included his tip, then got ready to exit into the
downpour.  He said to me, “Sir, this is only four dollars!” I was astounded,
blurted out, “Didn’t I just hand you nine dollars?”  We then both noticed
that the five dollar bill was still in my hand. The joke was on me. . .
but you can see how these things can happen.  I might well have been tadacip by cipla
convinced the man tried to cheat me, when he did not.  As in 1888 in
the East End of London. . . and similarly in the United States in 2012!

Do you think the graffito is the real thing?  What are your thoughts?
What do you think it means?  Was it written by the killer or was it
just a stray piece of graffiti unrelated to the case?  Hmmmmm?

Petticoat Lane

Earlier Nineteenth Century View of Petticoat Lane Market, Spitalfields, London

The Ripper’s Knife

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Donald Rumbelow Jack the Ripper Knife 

“Jack the Ripper” knife owned by Donald Rumbelow that featured in the
2008 Museum of the Docklands exhibit.

There is a lot of debate about the type of knife that the Whitechapel
murderer used.  In November I flew up to Toronto to be part of a new
documentary that will be aired tonight on the OLN network at 9:30 pm
as part of the “Deals from the Dark Side” series with Steve Santini.
(could anyone record it for me as I am a poor Statesider!).  At the
Kingston Museum of Health Care on a cool but non-snowy day, I met
Steve and his companion by a table laden with sharp surgical knives.
The scene was a bit chilling, if you will, not just because of the knives
but because both Steve and his friend are biker guys.  See his photo.
At any rate, our discussion was about a knife that Steve was at that
moment considering purchasing.  It was a period knife but NOT a knife
that might have been used by a medical doctor, I thought.  I told
Steve that nonetheless I considered it conceivable that the knife
could have done the mutilations to the Ripper victims.  Indeed, it
was put to me one time by a poster on the Casebook message boards
that a razor could have done the mutilations attributed to the killer.

Karyo Magellan Ripper Neck Cuts

“Ripper” Neck cuts to Annie Chapman. 
Copyright Karyo Magellan.


My theory is a surgical knife did the cuts. Indeed, I had
with me, from my own collection, a modern Tiemann amputation knife,
with a razor-sharp blade, that with the handle measures around 16
inches long.  To me, that is the type of knife that likely did the
damage.  At the museum, they had period Tiemann surgical knives.

Students of the Ripper case will know, however, that there is some
debate about the murder of third canonical victim Elizabeth Stride,
the first woman killed on the morning of the Double Event, Sunday,
30 September 1888.  The medical testimony is that a short knife was
used on her.  Of course she is the one “Ripper” victim who only had
her throat cut and who did not have abdominal cuts, the explanation
usually being that the killer was interrupted by the pony and cart
of socialist club member Louis Diemschutz arriving in Dutfield’s
Yard where the murder occurred.  This is the traditional explanation
of the lack of mutilations to Stride — that the killer then went
on to satiate his need to mutilate by killing and mutilating the
fourth canonical victim and second prostitute killed that night, Kate
Eddowes.  But I feel this is misleading, because if he used a long
knife on all the victims other than Stride, it’s likely that he
would have used a long knife on her throat and then used that same
knife on her abdomen, if he’d had the time.  So the throat cut plus
the medical testimony at the inquest are simply highly misleading. They like viagra online

If you are able to watch it, see the episode tonight of “Deals from
the Dark Side.”  See you there, my friends!

Keep an eye on YouTube for the episode of “Deals from the Dark Side” about the Ripper knife. Prior episodes of the show have been posted there, e.g.,  Also check out Steve Santini’s website “Medieval Torture: Dark Deeds in the Dark Ages”.    Warning!  Not for the faint of heart.
Steve Santini
Steve Santini

Those Forced Ha Ha’s

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As the U.S. Republican presidential race heats up, the media has been
taking notice of the sincerity — or lack of it – of the candidate’s laughs.  A
report by CNN’s Jeanne Moos has singled out the forced nature of the ha ha’s
particularly those of ex-Massachusetts governor and corporate CEO Mitt
Romney and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich of Georgia.  See
She noted it most when the candidates are under attack or feel uncomfortable, and
particularly that Mitt Romney’s ha ha was “almost like a nervous tick.”
Of course, in the Jack the Ripper case, the “Dear Boss” letter received by
the Central News Agency and dated 25 September 1888 is famous for the
ha ha’s seen both in the body of the letter and in the pencil postscript.

“. . . I saved some of the proper red stuff in a ginger beer bottle over the
last job to write with but it went thick like glue and I cant use it. Red ink
is fit enough I hope ha. ha.  …  They say I’m a doctor now.  ha ha

In both instances, the ha ha is underlined for emphasis:

Dear Boss ha ha

To me, despite it being the most well known and notorious Ripper letter,
“Dear Boss” is perhaps the most stagy and artificial of the lot, written
as it is in that petty criminal language with its smirking attitude but
composed in precise and careful script.  It somehow doesn’t look
right as having been written by the same man who was ruthlesslessly
slaughtering prostitutes on the streets of Whitechapel, despatching
them with a swift cut to the throat and then, in most cases, ripping
open their abdomens and doing other disfigurements.  Dear Boss is
calculated like the crimes, but in quite another way.  So I think a good
case can be made that Dear Boss and the Saucy Jacky postcard, which
followed, clearly written in the same hand and with a similar joshing
and cheeky attitude, are both journalistic hoaxes meant to hype up the
public’s interest in the Whitechapel murders.  Good for business, as it

But getting back to those ha ha’s and the Republican race here in the
United States, crime novelist Patricia Cornwell is probably the writer
on the case who has made the most of the question of the ha ha’s.  She
pointed out that suspect expressionist artist Walter Sickert’s mentor
James McNeill Whistler was fond of using ha ha, as if that might have
put Sickert in the frame for being the Ripper. 

Cornwell believes ha ha to be a “peculiarly American laugh”. She suggests that
Sickert, if he was the killer and the writer of Dear Boss, was mimicking his
role model Whistler’s annoying laugh.  As with so much about the Jack the
Ripper case, we can believe what we want to believe.  Start your own theory.

Further Reading

Patricia Cornwell, Jack the Ripper: Portrait of a Killer – Case Closed.
New York: Penguin Putnam, 2002. 

Stewart P. Evans and Keith Skinner, Jack the Ripper: Letters from Hell.
Stroud, Gloucestershire: Sutton Publishing, 2001.

“Points To Ponder - Opinion On Authenticity Of The Ripper As Author Of Dear
Boss” at JtR Forums at 

 “Ripper Letters” at 

A Bit of Graffiti and a Few Letters

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Last night, in Barnes and Noble in Union Station, Washington, D.C., I
picked up Poetry magazine’s Centennial issue and a copy of The Civil
War Monitor
, Winter 2011, Vol. 2, No. 1.   

I confess, I’m not really “into” the American Civil War. As you might
be aware, when not fighting in the trenches of Whitechapel (ha ha), my
favored war is the War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain.
It happens of course to be the Bicentennial of that war when the celebrated
lyrics of “The Star-Spangled Banner” were written, but, ah, alas and alack
it’s also the Sesquicentennial (150th anniv.) of the Civil War, so that much
better-known conflict aka “War Between the States” so familiar (thank
you, Ken Burns!!!) is tragically stealing the thunder from “our war.”  Ugh.

I picked up the issue of the Civil War mag because it had a picture or General
George Armstrong Custer on the front, him with the flowing locks and cavalier
swagger, the cover article being “Custer: The Rise and Fall of the Boy General”
by Glenn W. LaFantasie (great name!) but there was also a teaser at the top of
the cover for something on “The Devil and Robert E. Lee”, whatever that might
turn out to be.  Of course, I was intrigued, not the least because I am due
to give a talk this spring in Manassas, Virginia, on Lee’s papa, General “Light
Horse Harry” Lee, a Federalist and opponent of the Madison administration’s
mad decision to go to war in 1812, and a man who was tortured by a pro-war
mob in Baltimore in the summer of 1812.  Intrigued by the teaser for the Lee
article, I turned to page 18, and got a surprise.  The 2-page photo spread was
about graffiti found in a Mathew Brady photograph of Robert E. Lee after his
April 1865 surrender at Appomattox.  Lee stands outside his Richmond mansion.
On a brick by the door, someone has chalked the word “DEVIL.” Check it out
on line at

The chalked word was probably scrawled by a Union soldier and stands as a
statement of hatred against the former Confederate commander.  But of course
it also brings to mind the controversial graffito found in Goulston Street on
the night of the Double Event, 30 September 1888: “The Juwes are the men that
Will not be Blamed for nothing
.” See below. Words some refuse to believe were
scrawled by the Whitechapel murderer but that coincidentally were found above
a bloody swathe of white apron cut from the corpse of fourth canonical victim
Catherine Eddowes, killed over an hour earlier in Mitre Square, Aldgate.
In any case, it is possible that whether written by the killer or not, the
words are a statement about the people who lived inside the tenement at that
location, Wentworth Model Dwellings, who were known to be immigrant Jews, just
as the word scrawled on Lee’s house was a statement about him by some foe. We
might also recall the words “Jack the Ripper” scrawled on murderer William
Bury’s Dundee house. In all three instances, they were words one must believe
written with bad intent, a statement of hatred against the person(s) inside. 

The words famously washed from the brick wall of the tenement on the orders
of Sir Charles Warren but without being photographed (!) looked as follows:Police transcription of the Goulston Street Graffito

Police transcription of the famous “Goulston Street graffito”

As with the graffito, we don’t know for sure if any of the “Jack the Ripper
letters” were written by the murderer.  Various theorists have found some
similarities between their chosen suspect’s handwriting and the hand of the
writer of some of those letters.  Most famously, perhaps, Patricia Cornwell
in her Jack the Ripper: Portrait of a Killer – Case Closed, in which she
found similarities between some “Ripper” letters and correspondence by the
expressionist artist Walter Sickert (1860-1942).  Having been interested in
the topic of the Ripper letters since I became involved in researching the
Whitechapel murders in the early 1990’s, I already knew that there were
hundreds of Ripper letters, written in many different hands and on many types
of paper plus other medium.  I thought her theory was a non-starter.  Of
course, Ms. Cornwell’s theory is that Sickert was a play-actor who could
disguise his handwriting.  When I spoke to her when she was in Washington
for an appearance at Lisner Auditorium, George Washington Univ., in 2001 and
I called in to the Diane Rehm radio show, she actually made the statement that
she believed that 90% of the Jack the Ripper letters were written by Sickert!
The redoubtable and highly recommended book Jack the Ripper: Letters from
by Stewart P. Evans and Keith Skinner will give anyone new to the case
a full idea of the sheer range of letters received by the authorities. An eye opener.

Patricia Cornwell

Patricia Cornwell 

So therefore whether the graffito or letters were written by the killer is highly prob-
lematical.  I have often expressed the view that the only message the killer might
have left was in the murders themselves.
  At least we know he was responsible
for the crimes, even if he never wrote a letter or wrote that chalk graffiti.

What is true about the letters though is that they are a famous part of the
case.  Just as integral to the public’s view of the case as that the crimes took
place in the notorious fog or the probably equally erroneous conception that
the killer wore a top hat and a cape.  Blame Hollywood for all those ideas.
The letters create the idea that the killer was a clever trickster.  Indeed, if
they were not from the killer, they warped the investigation into the case.
There is a good case to be made that the letters might have been written
by a journalist to keep interest in case going, and of course sell more news-

The problem is that the police made a basic mistake after the first Dear
Boss letter written 25 September 1888 was received, along with the “Saucy
Jacky” postcard that arrived hard on its heels, both around the time of
the Double Event.  That is, they put the image of the two missives on a
broadside asking if anyone recognized the handwriting.  This opened the
way for every Tom, Dick, and Harry, to jump on the bandwagon and claim
their little piece of fame by emulating the original Ripper letters that
bragged about the murders.  Possibly Sickert was one of those who wrote
such letters to the authorities.  It has long been thought he had a
certain fascination with the case.  So he may have meddled in the case
just as others likely did.  But that does not make him the killer, does it?

Despite the claims of former Assistant Commissioner of Scotland Yard Sir
Robert Anderson in his memoirs of 1910 and retired Chief Constable Sir
Melville Macnaghten in his of 1914 that it was known that the writer of the
letters was as one of them put it “an enterprising London journalist” the
police actions in 1888 give the lie to the claim that it was definitely
known that a journalist was responsible.  In fact the “enterprising
journalist” explanation proved an easy answer for those retirees to
smugly claim, in retrospect, they were really in control of the situation,
and that they knew all along that the letters were hoaxes. Now, Dear Boss
might indeed have been a journalistic invention, just as “Leather Apron”
may have been, but whether it was the accused Thomas Bulling and Charles
Moore of the Central News Agency who did it, as former Chief Inspector
John George Littlechild claimed in a letter of 1913, the proof that they
did it is lacking.  In fact, if Bulling and/or Moore provably authored
Dear Boss, isn’t it reasonable to suppose they would have been prosecuted
for interfering with the case?

A number of students of case continue to think that of any of the letters,
the “From Hell” (Lusk) letter, the one that came with the half a kidney
supposedly from fourth canonical victim Catherine Eddowes, is the one
most like to have been sent is most plausible as being the killer.  Why is
that?  Is it the scary way it is written?  Or is it because it came with
the half a kidney?  Analysis of the information we have about the kidney,
as Christopher-Michael DiGrazia wrote in “Another Look at the Lusk Kidney,”
his dissertation here on Casebook, shows that the original information on
the kidney published in the press was erroneous.  It would appear to me
that the “From Hell” letter continues to receive some of its cachet of
plausibility because of the lingering idea, conceivably false, that the
piece of kidney could have been from Eddowes.  The hoax letters continue
to befuddle and mislead the investigation even today

Further Reading

Patricia Cornwell, Jack the Ripper: Portrait of a Killer – Case Closed.
New York: Penguin Putnam, 2002.

Christopher-Michael DiGrazia, “Another Look at the Lusk Kidney,” available

Stewart P. Evans and Keith Skinner, Jack the Ripper: Letters from Hell.
Stroud, Gloucestershire: Sutton Publishing, 2001.

“Points To Ponder - Opinion On Authenticity Of The Ripper As Author Of Dear
Boss” at JtR Forums at 

“Ripper Letters” at 

Richard Walter and an Alleged “Secret” Letter of 1888 at Scotland Yard

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Richard Walter 

Richard Walter of the Vidocq Society


In the latest issue of Ripperologist (Dec 2011, no. 123) I report what Vidocq
Society member & profiler Richard Walter said at the recent Drexel University
Conference on Jack the Ripper about a supposed secret letter of 1888 kept, he
says, in the vault of Scotland Yard that he says concerns Montague John Druitt
and Prince Albert Victor (PAV).  Is there anything to his claim that such a letter
was received by the Yard in 1888 and that it implicates Druitt, who killed him-
self by drowning in the Thames in December 1888, some weeks after the murder
and mutilation of Mary Jane Kelly, the 5th canonical victim, in Miller’s Court,
Spitalfields?  From what we can gather, Walter was told the information about
the sealed letter, said to be from Druitt’s uncle,  along with a story about
an affair between the Prince and Druitt, by a highly placed source at Scotland
Yard but he refused to divulge the name of his source.

In the aftermath of the Drexel event, due to the revelation and in the face
of Walter’s refusal to name his source, I was part of a veritable blizzard of
emails that flew back and forth across the Atlantic between myself and the
three authors of the authoritative The Complete Jack the Ripper A to Z,
Paul Begg, Martin Fido, and Keith Skinner, plus Ripperologist Executive
Editor Adam Wood, as I wrestled with how to report this information in the
“Rip.”  Fido was a fellow speaker at Drexel and he heard the claims made
by Walter in the opening session on Friday, October 28 and was also party
to discussions with Walter during the weekend, as was myself,
site owner Howard Brown and Canadian Ken Whiteway (”The Grave Maurice”
on the message boards).  We heard a colorful and bizarre story in which we
that ran that PAV and Druitt met as members of the Cambridge Apostles,
the supposed secret society, and fell in love, but that later PAV broke off
the relationship and turned to prostitutes.  Druitt committed the murders
to revenge himself on the prostitutes that had given PAV syphilis.  Then,
depressed after the murders, he tried to drown himself but failed to do
so because of his athletic build.  As most will know, Montie Druitt was
an avid cricketer; according to Walter, it was Druitt’s strong build that
saved him from drowning.  However, later, by now in a weak condition,
according to Walter, he was persuaded to drown himself a second time
because of the stain of the murders on the Druitt family and the Royals.

It was the double drowning that made me think all this might be fantasy.
And Martin Fido told Walter at Drexel that the Cambridge Apostles story
could not be true.  The Apostles, according to Fido, are more of a debating
society than a true secret society.  Besides which, Druitt was an Oxford
student not a Cambridge man.  As such, he’d never have been admitted
to the Apostles.  And, Fido said, PAV was too dim to be in the Apostles. So
the whole story was a nonstarter.  Neither could the story be true that
Walter told that PAV took Druitt to meet Queen Victoria.  This also
sounds wrong to me, let alone the story of a letter sealed in the vaults
for one hundred years with instructions that it not be opened till 1988.
Of course, the Metropolitan Police has ostensibly handed over all of
the letters and other files to the British National Archives that it had
from the Whitechapel murders.  Moreover, it doesn’t sound right that a
letter from a relative of Druitt could say anything about an affair with
a Royal let alone an heir to the throne, and nor about PAV contracting
syphilis from prostitutes.  Druitt’s uncle may have been a physician, as
Walter said, but a commoner would not in that day have put that sort of
thing in writing.

And yet someone apparently told Richard Walter this story.  Walter spoke
at Drexel of having “privilege” with the Metropolitan Police, and he has
apparently done work for the Met as a profiler.  Somebody well placed at
the Met, it seems, told him this story.  It sounds all too fantastic,
and yet Walter told it as if he believed it, but then later in an email
to me backed off and said he had no interest in the case.  This after
telling the tittle tattle with evident relish both in the opening session
at Drexel and then to several of us in the opening day reception and in
conversation with Martin Fido.  One other thing, Walter spoke to Fido
about John Grieve, Deputy Asst. Commissioner at the Yard now retired.
He said that Grieve misled Patricia Cornwell about the painter Walter
Sickert re the possibility that Sickert could have been the Ripper.
This titbit was discussed in the blizzard of emails crossing the Atlantic
between myself, the A to Z authors and Adam Wood, because Skinner
has been working with Ms. Cornwell on a new edition of her book, or at
least helping continue her research into Sickert, whom she apparently
now believes was at least guilty of definitely writing “Ripper” letters.
Skinner’s view was that it was unlikely that Grieve intentionally tried
to mislead Cornwell, and it was just that Grieve’s mention of the painter
intrigued her and she picked up the ball and ran with it.  Skinner has
also tried to ascertain how far back Richard Walter might have heard
the story that he told.  Drexel conference organizer Prof Fred Abbate
was told the same story by Walter some months before the October
28-29, 2011 event, and when we asked Abbate how long Walter might
have held his views about Druitt and PAV he said “some months” though
it might seem as if it is more like years, and maybe many years since his
informant is apparently now retired.  When in conversation with myself,
Howard Brown and Ken Whiteway, Walter was asked if he would publish
what he knew about the case, he replied that he had no intention to do so,
and that the person from whom he had received the information had
retired, inferring that was a reason not to publish the story.

So we might say that if there is a secret letter in the vaults of
Scotland Yard – which might or might not be the “family info”
Sir Melville Macnaghten wrote that told about the culpability
of Druitt for the crimes – the information about the letter and the
story about Druitt and Prince Albert Victor was told by an
unknown source at Scotland Yard now believed to be retired
.  Wow.

We are inclined to think all this is a fable and that Richard Walter was
misled somehow… or else maybe somebody at Scotland Yard was telling
tales out of school????  Paul Begg remarked that it is the sort of thing
that “seriously muddies the waters.”  There has been more than enough
rubbish written over the years since 1888 about the Jack the Ripper case!

The Lodger: From Page to Stage to Screen

Alfred Hitchcock, Ivor Novello, Jack the Ripper, London, Marie Belloc Lowndes, The Lodger, Uncategorized, silent motion pictures, stage and screen, theater 3 Comments »

 Marie Belloc Lowndes


Marie Belloc Lowndes (1868–1947)

Marie Belloc Lowndes published her first version of The Lodger
about a Ripper-like killer named “The Avenger”,  as a short story in
McClure’s Magazine in 1911. By 1913 she made it a full-length novel.
It  is clear that the ’orrible murders were taking place in Whitechapel;
the link to the Ripper is unmistakeable.

Mr and Mrs Bunting suspect that their lodger, Mr Sleuth, is “The Avenger.” 
But whether Sleuth really is the murderer is unclear: the story focuses
on the Buntings’ possibly unfounded terror rather than the crimes.   

The novel was adapted for the stage as a comedy entitled Who Is He? by
by prolific writer Horace Annesley Vachell (1861–1955). It played at the
Haymarket Theatre in London in 1916 with Howard Ainley in the title role. 

In January 1917, the play was done in New York with Lionel Atwill as
the lead. It received mixed reviews when it opened on 8 January 1917 at
the Maxine Elliott Theatre. The critic in the New York Times felt that
Atwill played the role in a “hammer-and-tongs” fashion little suited for
what he termed “such slight stuff” as The Lodger.

Overall, the critic declared the show to be “highly amusing” and that
Beryl Mercer as Mrs Bunting outshone the lead actor.  He said she was
“enormously laughable as the tender-hearted but suspicious landlady.”
It closed after 56 performances. Atwill would go on to enjoy a long
career playing roles in B-movies.

Ten years later, the play was brought to the big screen by Alfred Hitchock
in his first major film, using the same title as Belloc Lowndes’ novel, The
Lodger: A Story of the London Fog
. The significance of the subtitle is that
it gives the notion that the crimes were committed in London’s notorious fog,
which Ripperologists know is nonsense, don’t we?  In any case, the idea of
London’s stereotypical fog only added to the myth of Jack the Ripper.

Hitchcock’s version of The Lodger was the 1927 silent classic starring Ivor
Novello. He played the role in enigmatic fashion, alarming the Buntings
while charming their blond daughter, Daisy. As with Hitchcock’s handling
of Cary Grant later in Suspicion and To Catch a Thief, the director toyed
with the audience and hinted at a dark side to the character, although
Novello’s character would turn out a good guy on the trail of the killer.

Hitchcock said, “I had seen a play called Who Is He? based on Mrs. Belloc
Lowndes’ novel The Lodger. The action was set in a house that took in
roomers and the landlady wondered whether her new boarder was Jack the
Ripper or not. I treated it very simply, purely from her point of view.”
He disliked the later talkie versions of The Lodger made by other
directors, because they made the story too complicated. 


Marie Belloc Lowndes, “The Lodger,” in McClure’s Magazine, Volume 36, January 1911, pp. 266–77.

Marie Belloc Lowndes, The Lodger. London: Methuen, 1913. 

Mark Whitehead and Miriam Rivett, Jack the Ripper. Harpenden, Hertfordshire: Pocket Essentials, 2006, p. 67

Denis Meikle, Jack the Ripper: The Murders and the Movies. Richmond, Surrey: Reynolds and Hearn Ltd., 2002, pp. 44–49.

Gary Coville and Patrick Lucanio, Jack the Ripper: His Life and Crimes in Popular Entertainment. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 1999, p. 24.

 “‘The Lodger’ Proves Highly Amusing,” New York Times, January 9, 1917.Ivor Novello in Hitchcock’s silent classic film The Lodger (1927) Ivor Novello in Hitchcock's The Lodger

Jack the Ripper Through a Wider Lens Conference, Philadelphia, October 28-29, 2011

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Jack the Ripper Through a Wider Lens
Conference Agenda

Friday, October 28: The Conference Opening Session

3:30 to 5:30 PM Greetings from the Co-chairs

Opening Panel: “Shadow and Substance: The Pursuit of the Serial Killer”
Richard Walter, Katherine Brown, John Maxwell

6:00 to 7:00 PM The Provost’s Welcoming Reception

Saturday, October 29:

8:00 to 9:00 AM Full Breakfast

9:00 to 10:30 AM Panel 1: Images of Jack the Ripper
▪ Christopher T. George, “Early Theatrical Depictions of Jack the Ripper”
▪ John Curra, “Seriality, Sexuality and Murder: Jack the Ripper as a Folk Devil”
▪ Carla E. Anderton, “Our Continued Fascination with the Ripper”

10:30 to 10:45 AM Morning Break

10:45 AM to 12:15 PM
Panel 2: The Ripper Investigation: Police, Life Stories and Dead Souls
▪ Martin Fido, “The Policing of the Ripper Crimes”
▪ Craig Monk, “Optograms, Autobiography and the Image of Jack the Ripper”
▪ Jean Hantman, “The Serial Killer in Everyday Life”

12:45 to 2:00 PM Lunch
Luncheon Talk:”The Ripper Case in Broader Historical Perspective”
Professor Drew D. Gray, Northampton University

2:00 to 3:30 PM
Panel 3: The Ripper and “Outsider” Issues and Themes
▪ Richard Conti, “Perceptions of Insanity in Victorian England and the Hunt for Jack the Ripper”
▪ Deirdre McMahon, “The Condition of Women and the Ripper Case”
▪ David Sterritt, “The Ripper, the Avenger, the Outsider”

3:30 to 3:45 PM Afternoon Break

3:45 to 5:15 PM
Panel 4: Media Narratives: Mystery, Murder, and the Ripper
▪ Mikita Brottman, “Fiction as Scalpel: My Obsession with From Hell”
▪ Cordelia Frances Biddle, “Writing about Murder and Mayhem in 19th Century Philadelphia”
▪ Matthew Kaulfold, “The Ripper in Four Colors”

5:30 to 7:00 PM Closing Reception

Jack the Ripper in Wax

Jack the Ripper, Jews, Liverpool, London, Uncategorized, Victorian Period, Whitechapel Murders 1 Comment »

The Star, Largest Circulation of Any Evening Paper in the Kingdom.

Revenged on “Jack the Ripper.”

At Liverpool yesterday a young man named Bramwell was charged with damaging a wax
figure at an exhibition. Mr. Raffles asked what the figure was, and he was informed
that it was the figure of “Jack the Ripper.” Bramwell had only landed in Liverpool
two days previously from Canada, and on seeing the figure at the exhibition he
expressed a determination to smash it. - He was ordered to pay the damage and costs.

Perhaps surprisingly, attacks on waxworks, a popular type of period entertainment,
were not that rare.  Five years earlier in Liverpool a waxworks tableau of the 1881
murders in Phoenix Park, Dublin was attacked and destroyed by several “Invincibles”
making a political statement.  The men responsible were tried before the same Mr.
Raffles who heard the case of the man who attacked the figure of the Ripper in 1888.

The incident took place on 16 June 1883 at Allsopp’s Waxworks Exhibition, 51 Lime
Street, apparently the same place where the 1888 attack on the figure of Jack the
Ripper took place, and led to the prosecution of Phillip John Wollohan, Joseph
M’Ginn and William Flannigan.

At the height of the Ripper murders, there was even a small waxworks exhibition in
Whitechapel itself showing the victims of the murders.

East London Observer
Saturday, 15 September 1888.

The vendors of a doggerel ditty meant at first to describe the details of the
Buck’s-row tragedy, but slightly and ingeniously altered in order to include
that of Hanbury-street, reaped a rich harvest of coppers, but by no means so
large as that obtained by the proprietor of a small waxworks concern in the
Whitechapel-road, who, by daubing a few streaks of red paint over three sadly
mutilated figures that have done duty on many previous occasions, and by
exhibiting three horrible-looking pictures outside his establishment, con-
trived to induce several hundreds of the gullible public to pay their pennies
and witness the “George-yard, Buck’s-row and ‘Anbury-street wictims.” But his
triumph was short-lived, for a police-inspector, with some respect for decency,
had the pictures hauled down, and left the waxworks proprietor using the whole
of his h-less (?) and ungrammatical, if strong, vocabulary against the police
in general, and that police inspector in particular.

The Irish Times
Dublin, Ireland
11 September 1888


There is a waxworks show to which admission can be obtained for one penny, in the
Whitechapel road, near the Working Lad’s Institute. During the past few days a
highly-coloured representation of the George Yard and Buck’s Row murders - painted
on canvas - have been hung in front of the building, in addition to which there
were placards notifying that life size wax models of the murdered women could be
seen within. The pictures have caused large crowds to assemble on the pavement in
front of the shop. This morning, however, another picture was added to the rest.
It was a representation of the murder in Hanbury street. The prominent feature of
the picture was that they were plentifully besmeared with red paint - this of
course representing wounds and blood. Notices were also posted up that a life-
size waxwork figure of Annie “Sivens” [sic] could be seen within. After the
inquest at the Working Lad’s Institute had been adjourned a large crowd seized
them and tore them down. Considerable confusion followed, and order was only
restored by the appearance of an inspector of police and two constables. A man
attired in workman’s clothes and who appeared to be somewhat the worse for drink
then addressed the crowd. He said - “I suppose you are all Englishmen and women
here; then do you think it right that that picture (continued the orator, pointing
to the one representing the murder in Hanbury street) should be exhibited in the
public streets before the poor woman’s body is hardly cold.” Cries of “No, no, we
don’t” greeted this remark, and another scene of excitement followed. The crowd,
however, was quickly dispersed by the police before the showman’s property was
further damaged.

The Mysterious Life and Death of P.C. Richard Brown

British Army, Depression, Jack the Ripper, Jews, London, Metropolitan Police, Suicide 32 Comments »

Richard Brown presents a most unusual case, for he was not only a seaman but a soldier
and a London policeman in consecutive order, and, as the old rhyme goes, Tinker, Tailor,
Soldier, Sailor
. . . . Does his suicide by apparent self-inflicted gunshot in Hyde Park
at midday on Friday, 16 November 1888, 3 days after he was allowed to resign from the
Metropolitan Police and almost a week after the 9 November murder and mutilation of
Mary Jane Kelly, have anything to do with the Whitechapel murders? Could Brown even
have been Jack the Ripper? The Jewish Chronicle of 23 November, reporting on the
coroner’s enquiry into his death, tells us that ‘The deceased was a Jew, and before
joining the police force was a soldier in the British army. He served in the Egyptian
campaign and was decorated with four medals. It transpired that Sir Charles Warren
had shown him great kindness, and the deceased became very depressed when the
resignation of the late Chief Commissioner was announced.’ 

The reported facts about Brown’s Jewish religion and reported relationship with Warren
are tantalizing details that are left out of the reports of the coroner’s hearing published
in The Times, Lloyd’s Weekly News, and The Star at the end of November. The date of
Brown’s suicide fits the criterion many students of the case theorize for the supposed
conclusion of the Ripper’s murder spree—that the murderer did away with himself. 

‘. . . a steady, respectable man’

Brown joined the Metropolitan Police on 16 August 1886 as Warrant Number 72041 in E
Division, according to the ‘E’ Divisional Ledger. E Division covered the West End district
of Holborn with stations at Hunter Street, Gray’s Inn Road, Bow Street, and Waterloo
Pier. The division records give Brown’s birthplace as Adelaide, South Australia, his age on
joining as 32 years, and his army service prior to joining the force as Royal Artillery and
Army Reserve. His height is recorded as five feet nine and a quarter inches. P.C. Brown’s
resignation from the force was permitted on 13 November 1888; Police Orders for that
day reveal that the resignation was permitted under Consolidated Orders, Sec. IV., para
128 to 133, page 488, ‘Not parading on duty; and considered unfit for the Police Force.’
Pay was permitted ‘to the 11th [December]’.

Brown was let go on Tuesday, and on Friday, three days after being allowed to resign,
he apparently killed himself. After telling acquaintances of confused plans to leave
the country, the man shot himself with a pistol he bought on Thursday.

The coroner’s inquest into Brown’s death was held at St. George’s Hospital by Mr. John
Troutbeck, the coroner for Westminster. As recorded in the 20 November edition of The
, Inspector Austin Askew, of Hunter Street Police Station, testified about Brown’s
termination from the police and his character:

[Askew] stated that the deceased was guilty of a slight breach of discipline, and with
others appeared before the Assistant Commissioner, who allowed him to resign in order
that he might preserve his testimonial, and he left the service last Tuesday. He… was
a steady, respectable man, and did his duty fairly well.

Askew said the breach of discipline was that the deceased ought to have gone on parade
for night duty at a quarter to 10, and he neglected to do so.

The Strange Death of Richard Brown

Louis Sidney Torre, of 3, Percy Square, King’s Cross, stated to be the deceased’s second
uncle, there being no other relatives, stated he had known Brown for ‘about ten years,
and last saw him alive on Tuesday, the 13th’ when he was at his house—the same day
Brown had resigned from the police, and thus a traumatic day for the former constable.

Torre said his relative ‘seemed rather despondent, but complained of no trouble.’ Brown
informed him that ‘he had resigned his situation in the police force’ and that he intended
to go ‘either to Mexico or to Africa.’ Torre said his nephew was ‘a sober, steady
man, and [that] he had saved about £130.’

William Richards, a pawnbroker’s assistant, of 34 High Holborn, said that Brown came
to his shop on Thursday and bought a revolver, saying he was going to shoot in a match
with a fellow constable. It was a pin-fire revolver with six chambers. Richards said
Brown loaded the weapon outside the shop. Did it cross the disturbed man’s mind
to commit suicide by shooting himself right there in High Holborn?

Harris Bloom, a dealer of 166 Drury Lane, said that the deceased had supper with him on
Thursday night. The former policeman showed him the revolver, which he said he bought
for protection. Brown told Bloom he was going to California. Note that Brown’s stated
intentions to the dealer in regard to the gun and on his plans to go after leaving England
(if indeed he really intended to leave the country) varied from statements he made to the
pawnbroker’s assistant, Richards, and to his uncle, Louis Sidney Torre.

Police Constable Duncan McKenzie, 593 A, described finding Brown’s body:

[McKenzie] stated that he was on duty outside the Hyde Park Police-station
at midday on Friday when he heard a whistle blown. It sounded like a
policeman’s whistle. Upon going along the footpath leading to the
Serpentine he saw the deceased sitting on a seat with the revolver
produced tightly clasped in his right hand and blood flowing from his
mouth. He was removed to the hospital. No whistle was found.

 Map of Hyde Park 1833

Map of Hyde Park, 1833, showing paths to the Serpentine

Lloyds Weekly Newspaper November 25 1888 

Report of inquest on Richard Brown’s suicide in Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper,
Sunday, 25 November 1888  


Questions arise about this odd tale. Why did McKenzie say he heard a police whistle and
and not a gunshot? Who blew the whistle? Did Brown fire the fatal shot or did someone
else? If Brown did commit suicide, why at midday on Friday in a public park close
to a police station? Was the chosen location for suicide, if such it was, meant to
embarrass the police, or merely the product of a disturbed mind?

Mr. F. W. Parker, house surgeon, stated Brown died three hours after his admission; the
bullet entered his mouth and penetrated his brain. The jury gave a verdict of ‘temporary

A Mixed Army Record

With the help of genealogist Mark Andrew Pardoe, I have now obtained copies of
Brown’s army records. They reveal a mixed history despite his usual steadiness
while serving in the Metropolitan Police.

Brown joined the Royal Artillery as a gunner, regimental no. 4175, in the 11th brigade,
in Liverpool on 8 March 1878. At that time, his age was given as 24 years and 6 months.
He gave his occupation as sailor, his family’s address as 515 Pitt Street, Adelaide, South
Australia, and his father’s name as ‘John’ but, as noted below, research in Australian
street directory and genealogy records has not so far confirmed this information. Royal
Artillery records show Brown had a fresh complexion, brown hair, grey eyes, and
no distinctive marks except for a vaccination mark on his left arm from infancy. His
chest measured 38 inches, his weight 161 pounds, muscular development ‘very good’.

Unlike the 1888 Jewish Chronicle report of Richard Brown’s Jewishness, his religion
in army files is given as Church of England. Two days later, at the artillery depot
at Sheerness, Kent, he was diagnosed with ague and gonorrhoea, and was treated with
quinine and purgatives. He transferred to 11th brigade 12th battery on 15 May. The Royal
Artillery at the time had over 11 brigades with at least 6 batteries each of ca. 200 men.
Gunner Brown first served for 245 days in the unit, for he deserted the artillery while on
furlough at Sheerness on 11 November.

Astonishingly, Brown deserted not to quit the army but to join another army unit.
As noted on Brown’s Statement of Services, he ‘enlisted into 2/5 Foot [i.e., 2nd battalion,
5th Regt. of Foot, Northumberland Fusiliers] as No. 2091 Pte. Richard Brown on 12th
November 1878.’

Contrary to the statement made 7 months earlier on joining the artillery in Liverpool in
which he said he was a sailor from Australia, Brown gave his place of birth as Heligoland
and his occupation as a groom. Heligoland, an island off the German coast, today part of
Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, was at the time still a British possession after capture by
the Royal Navy from Denmark in 1807. The land became German in 1890 in a deal
worked out under the Heligoland-Zanzibar Treaty whereby the British got the rich East
African island of Zanzibar in return for surrendering the coastal island to the German
authorities. The deal was apparently more to Germany’s advantage strategically than
for any intrinsic value that the low-lying windswept island possessed. The Germans
established a naval base on the island and a sea battle of 1914, the opening year
of the First World War in Europe, occurred off it. It could be that Brown’s turnaround in
saying he was from Heligoland might betray European or Eastern European origin rather
than birth in the Antipodes as he told the Royal Artillery in 1878, although it should be
noted that many seamen in this period listed their place of birth or home as Heligoland.

Within six months, the army learned that ‘Private Brown’ was a deserter from the Royal
Artillery. The miscreant was slapped in the guardroom at Chatham on 20 May 1879. He
became non-effective in the Fusiliers on 4 June and was transferred back to the Royal
Artillery while still remaining in custody. He was moved to the ‘Cells’ 24 June and
court martialed. He served 2 1/2 months in the Millbank Military Prison, London,
located where the Tate Britain Gallery stands today, his pay and pension forfeited
at the time of his conviction for desertion.

 Map of Millbank Prison, London, 1862

Map of Millbank Prison, London, 1862

Brown was released 10 Sept., when he rejoined the Royal Artillery’s 11th brigade and was
sent with the brigade to India, landing in India on 28 October.

Brown apparently stayed an exemplary soldier til the end of his army career in spring
1886, after which he joined the Metropolitan Police. His pension was restored 11 Sept.
1881, two years after his release from his time in the brig. 

A Decorated Soldier

Brown landed in India in late 1880 and would fight in Afghanistan, being awarded an
attestation and medal for bravery the Afghan campaign of 1878–1880. According to the
newspaper reports on the coroner’s enquiry, he reportedly won a total of four medals
although so far we have found record of only two. His ‘Military History Sheet’ confirms
that the other medal was awarded for his service in the Battle of Tel-el-Kebir, Egypt,
on 13 September 1882, described as ‘Medal for Egypt with clasp…Khedive’s Bronze Star.’
Although the note that Gunner Brown won this medal appears on his army history sheet,
mystifyingly, he is not listed in the medals list for the campaign (WO100, War Office:
Campaign Medal and Award Rolls (General Series) 56, Royal Artillery 14 Egypt, 1882).

The battle followed the overthrow of the the Khedive, the British viceroy in Egypt, by
a native force led by rebel Egyptian officer, Colonel Ahmed Arabi in May 1882. Arabi
and his rebel army’s aimed to take over the Suez Canal, recently built in 1869 to
facilitate communications to Asia, and to keep foreigners out of Egypt. After landing
at Ismalia in August and making a night march, British commander Lieutenant General
Sir Garnet Wolseley with 35,000 British and Indian troops surprised and destroyed
Arabi’s entrenched army at the Tel-el-Kebir and restored British rule. 

 The Battle of Tel-el-Kebir 1882

The Battle of Tel-el-Kebir, 1882

The redoubtable Scottish poet William McGonagall wrote one of his epic poems on the
battle, and it gives the flavor of the battle in which Richard Brown won his medal, even
if the Scottish bard appears, by my count, to underestimate the size of the British force!

The Battle of Tel-el-Kebir

Ye sons of Great Britain, come join with me,
And sing in praise of Sir Garnet Wolseley;
Sound drums and trumpets cheerfully,
For he has acted most heroically.

Therefore loudly his praises sing
Until the hills their echoes back doth ring;
For he is a noble hero bold,
And an honour to his Queen and country, be it told.

He has gained for himself fame and renown,
Which to posterity will be handed down;
Because he has defeated Arabi by land and by sea,
And from the battle of Tel-el-Kebir he made him to flee.

With an army about fourteen thousand strong,
Through Egypt he did fearlessly march along,
With the gallant and brave Highland brigade,
To whom honour is due, be it said.

Arabi’s army was about seventy thousand in all,
And, virtually speaking, it wasn’t very small;
But if they had been as numerous again,
The Irish and Highland brigades would have beaten them, it is plain.

‘Twas on the 13th day of September, in the year of 1882,
Which Arabi and his rebel horde long will rue;
Because Sir Garnet Wolseley and his brave little band
Fought and conquered them on Kebir land.

He marched upon the enemy with his gallant band
O’er the wild and lonely desert sand,
And attacked them before daylight,
And in twenty minutes he put them to flight.

The first shock of the attack was borne by the Second Brigade,
Who behaved most manfully, it is said,
Under the command of brave General Grahame,
And have gained a lasting honour to their name.

But Major Hart and the 18th Royal Irish, conjoint,
Carried the trenches at the bayonet point;
Then the Marines chased them about four miles away,
At the charge of the bayonet, without dismay!

General Sir Archibald Alison led on the Highland Brigade,
Who never were the least afraid.
And such has been the case in this Egyptian war,
For at the charge of the bayonet they ran from them afar!

With their bagpipes playing, and one ringing cheer,
And the 42nd soon did the trenches clear;
Then hand to hand they did engage,
And fought like tigers in a cage.

Oh! it must have been a glorious sight
To see Sir Garnet Wolseley in the thickest of the fight!
In the midst of shot and shell, and the cannons roar,
Whilst the dead and the dying lay weltering in their gore

Then the Egyptians were forced to yield,
And the British were left masters of the field;
Then Arabi he did fret and frown
To see his army thus cut down.

Then Arabi the rebel took to flight,
And spurred his Arab steed with all his might:
With his heart full of despair and woe,
And never halted till he reached Cairo.

Now since the Egyptian war is at an end,
Let us thank God! Who did send
Sir Garnet Wolseley to crush and kill
Arabi and his rebel army at Kebir hill.

After Tel-el-Kebir, Brown returned with his Royal Artillery unit to India. During this
time, his medical history seems unexceptional except for a contusion obtained in an
accident on duty in Rawal Pindi in November 1882, and a 23-day episode of lumbago
while at Fort Attack in 1884

Brown remained in India until returning to England on 20 April 1886 and
being transferred the First Class Army Reserve with the rank of gunner on 19 May,
three months before he joined the Metropolitan Police. On his discharge, his character
was noted as being ‘good.’ In his medical history, and the medical staff noted in their
‘General Remarks on his Habits and Conduct in the Service, Temperance, &c. . . Good,
Regular, Temperate.’ 

Where Did Richard Brown Meet Warren?

It is tempting to think that on one of his overseas tours of duty or even in England,
Gunner Brown’s path intersected with fellow British Army man General Sir Charles
Warren, but documentation of their association prior to both being in the Met in 1888
is so far lacking. In what manner did Warren show Brown kindness? And was that
kindness shown by Warren to the younger man while they were in the army or while
in police service? Possibly study of written army and police records, as well as the
papers of the coroner’s inquest on Brown, if still extant, will reveal these answers.

As Jeffrey Bloomfield mentioned in a 2003 article in Ripperologist, ‘The Making of the
Commissioner 1886’, Warren was in Egypt in 1882, having volunteered his services
in the Egyptian Campaign. Did the two men meet at the time Gunner Brown won his
Khedive’s Bronze Star at the Battle of Tel-el-Kebir and possibly serve together in the
campaign? After Warren gained fame for tracking down the killers of Professor Edward
Palmer and his expedition in Egypt in late 1882–1883, the general was recommended as
Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in 1886. He took over as Commissioner from
Sir Edmund Henderson on 12 March 1886. Was he instrumental 5 months later in August generiques indiens,
in recommending that Brown to be accepted into the police force? This could be a
possible channel for investigation.

Punch cartoon of Sir Charles Warren 

Punch cartoon of Sir Charles Warren

Brown was discharged from the Artillery on 19 May 1886 and transferred to the
Army Reserve. His discharge date, or rather his transfer to the reserve list, made it 
convenient for him for him to join Metropolitan Police. Of interest to Ripperologists is
an indication in the army records that, on leaving the Artillery, he stated that he was
going to live in London’s East End, since he gave the General Post Office at Bethnal
Green as his postal address. Where was he living while he was in the police, and
specifically during the time of the Whitechapel murders? Would his duties in E
Division have given him an opportunity to be in the East End on the nights of the
murders?  Or could he have been one of the policemen drafted into the East End
at the time of the Ripper scare? These questions represent other areas for research. 

Questions about Richard Brown’s ‘Australian’ Background

Enquiries made for me by Australian genealogist Andrew Peake in Adelaide records have
failed to find Brown’s family at 515 Pitt Street or a father named “John” at that address
as Brown’s army records indicate. The listings failed to disclose an individual or family
who remotely resembled someone connected to Brown. Pitt Street in Adelaide, it turns
out, is a short street connecting two main streets, today filled with commercial addresses
although in the 1870’s it had some private houses. Sydney’s “Pitt St.” is a longer street.
Mr Peake checked directories for Adelaide for 1876 and 1878 but failed to find a family
named Brown or a man named “John” who might have been Richard Brown’s father.


What is the real story of Richard Brown? Was there some type of link between Richard
Brown’s suicide and the Whitechapel murders? Could he even have been the murderer?
His death within days after the Kelly murder on 9 November 1888 and his Jewish
background, given the possible Jewish connections to the case, make the circumstances
of his life and death worthy of study. It is also perhaps odd to note that it was on
11 Nov. 1878 that Brown deserted the Royal Artillery and joined the Second Battalion,
5th Regt. of Foot, Northumberland Fusiliers, that it was also in November ten years
later that he failed to appear on parade as a police constable in E Division of the Met,
was let go from the police on 13 Nov. 1888, and committed suicide on 16 November.
Another oddity is that the contusion Brown received while serving in India in an  accident while on duty, noted on his medical record, occurred on 2 Nov. 1882.

Is it too much to think there may have been a psychological landmark in Brown’s
past that made the month of November traumatic and that caused him psychological
distress? Or do we take it at face value that his desertion at Sheerness in November
1878 and the accident in India in November 1882 had no connection to his actions in
November 1888, i.e., his failure to appear on parade and his later apparent suicide? Was
Brown, as testified at the coroner’s enquiry, really depressed about the resignation of
Warren as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police? Or is there a deeper story concerning
Brown connected to the series of murders that occurred in London’s East End in August
through November 1888?

It might be assumed that our inability to so far to prove his Australian background and
his motley career in the army calls into question a number of ‘facts’ that Brown told
about his background. It is my working assumption that the man’s real name was not
‘Brown’ but some Eastern European name. Research continues into the strange case of
P.C. Richard Brown.


Many thanks to the late Adrian M. Phypers for alerting me to the story of Richard
Brown. I also thank Alex Chisholm, Andy & Sue Parlour, Debra Arif, researcher
Andrew Peake, Bernard Brown, and genealogist and researcher Mark Andrew Pardoe.


Jeffrey Bloomfield, ‘The Making of the Commissioner 1886,’ Ripperologist 47, July 2003.

Battle of Tel-el-Kebir at

British Army Records, PRO, WO 97 2388, Richard Brown, Gunner, Royal Artillery,
4175 Descrip; Medical History and Medical History; Record of Service (Proceedings of

Christopher T. George, ‘The Mysterious Life and Death of P.C. Richard Brown,’
Ripperologist 49, September 2003. This blog entry is adapted from that article
copyright Ripperologist 2003. 

“Inquest,” Jewish Chronicle, 23 November 1888.

“Inquests,” The Times, 20 November 1888. A similar report on the coroner’s enquiry into
Brown’s death appeared in “A Constable Allowed to Resign,” The Star, 20 November
1888. The Star, 17 November 1888, carried a short report to say that Brown had been
identified as the man who committed suicide in Hyde Park on the preceding day.

Jill Stratton, ed. The Biographical Index of South Australians 1836-1885. Adelaide, 1986.

William McGonagall On-Line, “The Battle of Tel-el-Kebir,” available at

Metropolitan Police, Police Orders, 16 August 1886 [‘Joined the force this day.— . . .
E 489-72041 Richard Brown’]; 13 November 1888 [Brown’s resignation permitted]

Street Directories for Adelaide, South Australia, 1876 and 1878.

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